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    Sterling, Cascades & CountrySide
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Cracker Barrel comes to Sterling
    Rockin' on the porch: (from left) Loudoun residents Larry and Sarah Schwenk, Ray Foster of Leesburg and Jeremy Jackson of Greenbelt, Md., share a laugh before the official opening of the Sterling Cracker Barrel on July 21. Photo/courtesy Kathie Felix.
    This week, Sterling has one more reason to become a destination for many in Loudoun and beyond—it is now home to the newest Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant in the Washington suburbs.

    The Sterling store, located near Old Ox Road, opened to the public at 6 a.m. on Monday, July 21. By 5:30 that morning, a friendly group of hungry customers had assembled on the store’s signature front-porch rocking chairs.

    The first person in line was Jeremy Jackson of Greenbelt, Md., who arrived at 4:50 a.m. to celebrate his birthday with an opening-day breakfast. Jackson, who works nearby, was joined at 5:30 a.m. by his friend Jermaine Miles, who had driven to Sterling from Cheverly, Md.

    The second person in line was Ray Foster of Leesburg, who runs Exxon stations in the area with his sons. Foster, an attendee at the store’s “Friends and Family” trial run on Friday, arrived for his second visit at 5:15 a.m.

    Also on hand were Iris Solodar of Ashburn, her daughter Hilary and Sean Sudduth, Hilary’s boyfriend. Sarah Schwenk and her son Larry, also Loudoun residents, rounded out the crowd of the earliest risers.

    As the first customers sat on the porch watching low-flying planes coming in for a landing at Dulles Airport, they said that the iconic shape of the building during construction was the initial clue that told them the CB had come to town.

    “I know what the building looks like,” Jackson said. “I don’t need [to see] the sign.”

    Ten minutes before the store opened, the front-porch crowd launched into a jovial rendition of “Happy Birthday,” directed to Jackson. A few minutes later, Jackson and Miles were ushered inside for a first-customer photo.

    After the photo was taken, Cheryl Ayers of Lebanon, Tenn., the Cracker Barrel store opening supervisor, unlocked the front doors with a welcoming smile, saying: “Let’s do this,” as she invited the customers inside.

    The first carry-out order was placed almost immediately by Jerry Bell of Manassas, who works at Horizon Forest Products, a hardwood flooring company close by. He said he plans to return regularly with a coworker who comes to Virginia each week from Raleigh, N.C.

    Patrons accustomed to road trips on I-95 and Cracker Barrel signs that are visible for miles may be surprised to find that the Sterling store is marked with a sign of a more humble size. To get there, exit route 28 at Old Ox Road/West. The store is on the right (north) side of the road.

    Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]
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    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Fun away from the sun in Sterling
    While it may be hot, hot, hot outdoors, cool things are happening indoors throughout steamy eastern Loudoun.

    Off to the air races: The After Hours Teen Center at the Cascades Library hosts an evening of paper airplane races on Friday, July 18, from 7 to 10 p.m. Pre-flight activities include some instruction in flight and aerodynamics, followed by experimentation with paper airplanes and competition racing with prizes. Ground crew members are welcome to attend: gaming stations, computers and art supplies also will be available. Teens must arrive by 7:30 p.m. and must be picked up by 10 p.m. All attendees must have a signed permission slip on file. For information: 703-444-3228.

    Indoor playground: Dulles Town Center presents Playdate Thursdays weekly at 11:00 a.m. Toddlers can explore the indoor Nationals Play Park, a new baseball-themed toddler park in the food court. On July 24, the little ones can rock out with live music from area favorites Rocknoceros.

    The Wicket Club: Sterling is home to the first indoor cricket facility in the metropolitan Washington area, a 10,000-square foot training facility known as The Wicket Club. The club offers its final 2014 youth cricket summer camp for ages 6-13 from July 28 through Aug. 1. Club memberships and walk-in rates for cricket and badminton for all ages are available. For information: or 571-276-7600.

    Twist and shout:
    The Cascades Senior Center celebrates the 50th anniversary of the nation’s “other” British Invasion—in the days when British pop music ruled the world—with a Beatles party and dance on Tuesday, July 29, from 2 until 4 p.m. Dust off those ‘60s threads or dress up like your favorite Beatle and show up ready to dance to your favorite Beatles tunes. Transportation will be provided after the party. Tickets are $5 for members and $7 for nonmembers. For information, call 571-258-3280.

    LINK up: The area’s LINK food pantry, a resource for those in need, can use some help with donations during the summer months. The top needs are dried soups such as ramen noodles, canned chicken, boxed meal helpers such as Hamburger Helper, canned fruit, tomato products, cleaning products, laundry detergent, feminine products and toiletries. The organization also needs volunteers in the summer to deliver food on Tuesdays through Saturdays to families living in Sterling, Ashburn and Herndon. To volunteer, call 703-973-4444. Information is available online at

    Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]
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    STERLING BOULEVARD: Drama camp for everyone
    When you’re struck by the acting bug, you live to be on the stage. But for some kids in our area, that may be harder than you think. Going to drama camps and participating in theatre productions can sometimes simply not be in the family budget.

    Hannah Ratcliffe, a junior at a high school in Ashburn, was working as a drama counselor at the Pickwick Players drama camp, when she was speaking to a camper who was on scholarship. The thought struck her: “What if there were more kids who wanted to do drama camp and just couldn’t afford it?” Rather than waiting around for someone else to solve the problem, she stepped in and created Charitable Act, a drama camp that provides the experience to under privileged students in our area. Hannah enlisted friends as well as a teacher at Sully Elementary School, Kim VanArtsdalen, to help her make Charitable Act a reality. She also sought sponsors and created her own website,

    For 20 rising third through sixth grade students at Sully and Guildford elementary schools, Charitable Act is giving them the full camp experience. Starting on Monday, July 14, the campers will spend four hours each day for the next two weeks learning about all the work that goes into putting on a show, something that Hannah knows well, as she just finished up being in Sterling Playmaker’s production of “Peter Pan” in the part of Tiger Lily. From stage direction to improvisation, Hannah and her team of friends will take the kids through every step of taking a play from script to stage.

    Now obviously something this awesome doesn’t happen without a lot of help – and that’s where you come in. Although Charitable Act has been getting a lot of support, including getting costumes loaned through the Sterling Playmakers, it could still use your help. Simply go to the Charitable Act website at and find out how you can help kids getting bitten by the bug. Who knows, you might be creating the next Keanu Reeves. OK, maybe we can aim a bit higher than that.

    Speaking of Sterling Playmakers, be sure to mark your calendars for their production of “Anything Goes,” which opens July 25 for a three weekend run at Potomac Falls High School. Tickets are available at and t,o correct my previous mistake, there is no additional charge for buying online.

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    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Eastern Loudoun Students Rock
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Happy Birthday America
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: A flag-waving fourth of July
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: The Cascades Green Team needs some helping hands
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Get schooled
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Falcons Landing raises $147,728 for emergency services, students
    COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: 11 Tips for Personal Safety
    STERLING BOULEVARD: Writing for fun (maybe not for profit)
    CountrySide/Cascades/Sterling: Moms and Kids Making a Difference
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